Pen and paper…

Thoughts, ideas, questions, experiences

Response from Birmingham City Council re: bee-keeping March 31, 2010

Filed under: Birmingham Recycled — Kellie Maddox @ 6:40 pm
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Adrian Stagg  – Allotments Finance & Records Officer at Birmingham City Council – responded to my query regarding changes to council’s bee-keeping on allotments policy:

We intend to change the Allotment Rules to accommodate bee keeping but are waiting for approval to the new terms. In the meantime we allow bees subject to the following conditions :

the siting of hives must be agreed with the Association and the Allotment Liaison Officer in advance

anyone keeping bees must have Public Liability insurance and must be a member of the British Beekeepers Association or affiliated society.

I’ve asked him to let me know when the new terms are approved – not sure on the time-scale for this so might run an initial story to talk about changes ‘in the pipeline’.

He also gave me details for Allotment Liaison Officer, Mohammed Riaz – who apparently knows more about specific arrangements for hives so I will be approaching him for further clarification in the next few days.


Actually, bees are allowed in Brum (I think…) March 28, 2010

Filed under: Birmingham Recycled — Kellie Maddox @ 3:17 pm
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It seems that things are already changing on the bee-keeping in Brum front. Having posted yesterday about the comments I got from Lisa Nelder – who’s from Walkers Heath Allotments – I’ve found out some more info courtesy of Dave Harte.

He kindly forwarded a copy of Birmingham City Council Allotment Rules, which clearly state:

These rules are made under Section 28 of the Small Holdings and Allotments Act 1908 and apply to all Allotments including any let before these rules came into force. They come into force on the date they are sealed.

7.4           Beehives are not allowed on the Allotment.

He also commented on my previous post:

You can have bee hotels on your allotment. There’s a few on ours. We need bees to pollinate stuff like pumpkins which is why you often see flowers planted on allotment plots. It’s beehives you can’t have which are a different order of things altogether.

So, the first question appears to have been answered but it’s still not that clear if and where you can keep bees. Then I received another email from Lisa saying:

Further to my email, I thought you might like to know that having attended the BDAC AGM today, the subject of bee keeping came up and the subsequent council rule. It now appears that the council have backtracked on this particular rule and bees will once again be allowed on site, with certain restrictions in place. Mainly, the beekeeper will have to be a member of the beekeepers association, who will in turn, ensure the bees are looked after properly, sited correctly on the allotment and appropriate insurance is taken out.

For more clarification may I suggest you speak with Adrian Stagg of Birmingham Council’s Allotments Section.

A U-turn decision by the council? Or something that wasn’t that clear in the first place – bee hotels = yes vs bee hives = no/allotments = no vs gardens = yes?

Anyway, whatever the decision/change of heart/clarity of the issue – I’m hoping to speak to Adrian Stagg sometime this week to see exactly what’s going on and what the situation with bee-keeping is now.

More posts to follow…


Bee-keeping and Birmingham allotments don’t mix apparently March 27, 2010

Filed under: Birmingham Recycled — Kellie Maddox @ 4:13 pm
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As you might know, I’ve left the world of recycling behind (for the mo anyway) and am looking at the environment with a wider lense as part of the Birmingham Recycled investigative team.

So what am I looking into first? Well Jade and I will be concentrating on bee conservation in the Midlands, following on from several Birmingham Recycled articles on this issue. We also received a tweet from @superGM:

@BhamRecycled Not allowed to keep bees on our allotment though. Grumble, grumble, BCC grumble.

So we’re looking at whether Birmingham City Council do prevent bees being kept in Birmingham, if so why and what impact this will have on projects like the OPAL project.

Anyway, I’ve started scouting a few allotment websites in Birmingham to see if there’s any info about bee conservation. I found the Birmingham and District Allotments Council and sent a message via their website:

I’m looking into bee conservation and the project on ‘bee hotels’ that Dr Adam Bates has been involved with. I was recently informed by someone that Birmingham City Council will not allow bees to be kept on allotments in Birmingham and wondered whether this is true or not?

I am looking to approach the council anyway, but thought you’d be the best place to start. Please do contact me if you have any information on allotment policies and if bee-keeping is in fact allowed.

To which, Lisa Nelder of Walkers Heath Allotments emailed me:

Unfortunately, according to Birmingham Council rules, beehives are not allowed on allotment sites. I think the health and safety and PL risks are too high for the council to allow them on sites. If we can be of more help, please contact me.

Incidentally, Dr Adam Bates will be sending me some files so that I can upload more information on his project on our website. As a site secretary myself, I totally support his project, even allowing a hotel on my own plot.

So it seems that Birmingham City Council definitely don’t allow bee hives on their allotment plots so I’ll be contacting them to find out why (although my thoughts are that it’s a health and safety issue). Having already checked the website, there’s no mention of it, just several policies that talk about sustainability/biodiversity, nature conservation and development and people and nature.

I’m interested to know their reasons for this decision and how they propose to support nature conservation in Birmingham if they don’t support important projects like the OPAL Open Air Laboratories bee hotels and allow allotments holders to do so.


Brumabilities: my contribution to Brum Twestival March 23, 2010

Filed under: Online journalism — Kellie Maddox @ 7:41 pm
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On Thursday, myself and a few friends will be popping along to Poppy Red in the Arcadian, Birmingham to join in this year’s Brum Twestival. So, I thought I’d read up on the whole ‘twestival’ thing as its my first and found that this year’s theme for the event is education.

The Brum Twestival team have come up with an idea called Brumabilities and have set up a blog for people to contribute short online guides on any subject they like, in the hope we can ‘educate’ each other about a whole host of topics.

Anyway, my contribution (as I’m yet to bring my equestrianism to the net) is this…


A guide to Grand Prix Dressage

Dressage – or ‘horse ballet’ for those not in the know – is basically a series of training exercises for horses and a competitive sport from novice to Olympic standard. It’s used to improve horses’ athleticism, flexibility and obedience but more than anything – it’s amazing to watch at Grand Prix level (the highest you can get!)

Here’s a 60 second guide to Grand Prix dressage movements, as demonstrated by the breath-taking Dutch combination Moorlands Totilas and Edward Gal at the 2009 Windsor European Championships.

Collected trot/canter The horses stride is shortened and more weight is carried on the hindquarters. It is not a slower pace – the stride is simply shorter and has more elevation.

Extended trot/canter The opposite of ‘collected’ – the stride is lengthened out and covers more ground without speeding up. (See Totalis’ amazing extended trot)

Half-pass The horse travels sideways and forwards at the same time looking in the direction of travel (e.g. left or right) – like moving diagonally from one corner to the opposite.

Passage A more ‘extreme’ version of collected trot but with even more collection and elevation! If you look at the video, it’s the bit where the horse looks like he’s pausing mid-air before putting each hoof down!

Piaffe Best described as trotting on the spot – think horses’ knees somewhere close to the ears!

One and two tempi flying changes Yes, it’s that complicated! Basically to the untrained eye it’s when the horse changes legs in canter every one or two strides, kind of like flying for a split-second!

Pirouette In true ballerina style, the horse canters on the spot whilst turning 360º on its hind legs. Impressed? You should be!


Social Media Workshop at BCU March 22, 2010

Today, a handful of us Online Journalism students popped along to the Social Media Workshop held at BCU – in association with new Media Talent Bank organisers Trinket Creative. We could only stay for the first hour because of lectures but managed to listen to Pete Ashton talking about social media, how he uses it, how other people use it and some ‘tips’ on how to use it for your own purposes.

Interesting ideas and thoughts he shared:

  • Numbers are irrelevant – its the quality that matters (re: tweets)
  • Splitting up your identity/having several online identities
  • Live-blogging/video has an authentic feel thats shows you what its actually like at the time
  • Social media as series of corridors
  • Be great at something and make sure people can get to ‘it’
  • ‘Performance conversation’ – find your voice and channel it through performance
  • ‘When everybody’s special, nobody’s special’ – just because you’re on Twitter doesn’t mean people will listen to you
  • ‘To be interesting you need to be interested’
  • ‘Don’t think of social media as a separate thing’ – use it within what you already use/do

His thoughts made me feel confident to go out and experiment with social media and get ‘interested’ in stuff but also made me feel (even more) like ‘a tiny fish in a big pond’ who no-one’s listening to! Oh well, sound advice from someone who actually ‘gets’ social media (well I think so anyway) and proof that it can work for whatever purpose you want it to. Onwards and upwards…


A change is as good as a rest…

Filed under: Birmingham Recycled — Kellie Maddox @ 7:30 pm
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I hope it is because I sure feel like taking a break right now (before my brain melts away!) Anyway, news on the ol’ Birmingham Recycled front – exit ‘recycling’ editor….enter new investigative journalist complete with Burberry (well maybe Primark) beige mac, Trilby hat and a bundle of FOI requests under arm. Move over Woodward and Bernstein….Birmingham Recycled Investigates is here.

Drama over – this is the new team: Sian Jones, Ben Harrow, Jade Rance, Adam Hartland and Natalie Eccleshall.

We shall be investigating a number of environmental issues relevant to the Midlands and looking at the local impact of national or international stories by digging and digging a bit more and then may be some more….so you can follow our updates on the new blog and keep up to date by following the team on Twitter.

And hopefully we’ll come up trumps with some interesting stuff – well that’s the plan anyway!


‘Sourcing’ news for a hyperlocal venture: do you avoid ‘traditional’ sources? March 19, 2010

Filed under: Online journalism — Kellie Maddox @ 10:33 am
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You may or may not know that I’m hoping to set up a hyperlocal news platform for my local area in the coming months as part of my final year university project. Having drafted my proposal and discussed plans going forward with my uni tutor, there’s a couple of areas I’m looking into and would love some advice from those of you who have ‘been there and done it’ or are going through the same motions.

My concern is around how hyperlocal blogs ‘source’ news (in whatever sense of the word) and what methods work best. Up to yet – my experience of news production lies heavily in sourcing through the more ‘traditional’ channels – e.g. news feeds, emergency service press lines, monitoring other media platforms, community groups etc etc.

My idea is to make my own platform more of a community space and I’d love to get others on board who aren’t necessarily ‘journalists’ in the conventional sense. My dilemma then, is whether by using the more ‘traditional’ news sources, I am actually defeating the object of my own ‘independent’ venture; however I’m finding it difficult to see how I’d sustain this project without dipping into existing sources.

What are your thoughts? My instinct and common sense is saying that it will be a mix of both – trying to ‘find’ my own stories through community connections and the involvement of residents whilst keeping an eye on other media/sources and using leads as a basis for further investigating myself.

I’d love to know your experiences and any problems and possible solutions you have found to any of the above thoughts. Having limited experience of ‘hyperlocal’, I’m finding hard to ‘think outside the box’, for want of a better phrase! Comments welcomed.